In Brief

Harry and Meghan’s Sussex Royal trademark bid blocked

Australian doctor files opposition to couple’s application to claim ownership of the brand

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have hit an obstacle in their efforts to become financially independent, after their attempt to trademark their “Sussex Royal” brand was put on hold following a complaint from a man in Australia.

The couple had planned to use the name for their newly launched charitable foundation and to make money from branded goods including mugs, hoodies and journals, according to the Daily Mail.

The name could be worth many millions - but the battle to trademark it could also prove costly, according to experts. 

What happened?

The couple filed a trademark application last June for the name, which they also use as their social media handles. The process includes an “opposition period” during which anyone can issue a complaint to the UK Intellectual Property Office.

That period was originally due to end on 20 February, but has now been extended by at least a month after a doctor in Australia this week registered a formal “notice of threatened opposition”.

The opposition was filed by Benjamin Worcester of Victoria, “who studied medicine at University College London and reportedly worked as an NHS doctor in London between 2011 and 2014”, says Hello! magazine.

It is not known yet why he filed the objection.

What happens next?

As a result of Worcester’s complaint, Meghan and Harry’s period of opposition has been extended until 20 March.

And the couple could “have to shell out in lawyers fees and other costs” to secure the trademark if the threatened opposition becomes a formal opposition, The Sun says. 

Lee Curtis, a chartered trademark attorney, told the newspaper: “If a formal opposition is ultimately mounted, this will involve the payment of an opposition fee, the drafting of formal grounds of opposition and the filing of evidence and legal submissions in support of the opposition.

“The whole opposition could take at least a year to get to a decision and is thus not an action entered into lightly, with a possible costs award against the losing party.”

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How much could the Sussexes make as a brand?

Retail expert Andy Barr says that branding by the Sussexes has the potential to “dwarf” the earnings of Prince Charles, whose Duchy brand makes an estimated £100m to £200m a year.

Barr told the Daily Express: “They’re going to be the most famous brand in the world - the Beckhams, Obamas, Bill Gates - they’re going to far surpass them, they’re such a major brand already.”

The Daily Beast adds that losing the Sussex Royal trademark bid would be “an enormous blow”, particularly because Harry and Meghan have “painstakingly developed the brand over the past few years”.

However, Sussex Royal is still overshadowed by the value of the Royal Family brand, which is worth an estimated £44bn, according to the Brand Finance Journal.

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